Due to the mid-week stakes action at Dover and the Thanksgiving holiday, a dark racing day and night before Black Friday, we present an early edition of our TwinSpires harness blog to cover the Delaware track’s top features on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.

We also offer our exclusive TwinSpires’ horses-to-watch (H2W) list to date. 

Our Weekend Update edition will be posted the following Sunday, Dec. 3, covering all of this early blog results and any breaking news from the sport. The next week’s preview returns on that Thursday, Dec. 5. The H2W list keeps up with this schedule.  

DELAWARE FINALS


On Nov. 26 at Dover Downs, the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) offers two $100k finals for frosh-colt-and-filly trotters to start its signature state-bred finals week, which includes the national Progress Pace (see below) for glamour-boys.

Eight youngsters race in the colt episode, four of which are still maidens. One of the favorites comes from the Rod Allen barn. Trainer/driver Rod is the son of champion horsemen, the late Carl Allen, whose success with trotters is marked in the sport’s history. The Allens’ performers are homebred, standing in Delaware since Carl’s passing.

The two-year-old in this final is the son of CR Commando (the CR letters on all of their horses stand for Carl Allen), out of the Allens’ mare, CR Penny Lane. With seven starts, four wins, a place and a show, and earning $55,000. Only Chauffeur has made more, nearly twice more, in nine starts (four wins, two places, two shows), but the morning-line (ML) maker puts Zulu as the predicted choice (3-1). That is a fair price and it may be available considering the aforementioned and crowd action for Touch Of White.

In the filly trot, also bringing eight to the post, half are maidens. Top-earner Orabelle may go off the public choice for four of six wins and not finishing worse than second in two. Orabelle has won twice as much as the next best above the rest, Alert.

However, Playoff Season, an Allen-bred filly by CR Commando, looms as a possible upset. Syl King, Jr. trains this one and Victor Kirby drives. For price and purpose, look for a CR Commando-kids sweep of the DSBF stakes duo.

PROGRESSIVE PACING

Dover’s signature Hap Hansen Progress Pace Final ($335k) for soph-colt pacers, is the feature on Nov. 27. A few of the big boys from the division’s stakes this season go on hiatus until after their birthdays but a field of eight is still available, including the solo-elim’s super-fast Captain Crunch.

Last week, Captain Crunch rebounded from a disappointing season for trainer Nancy Johansson by racing the fastest mile in the history of Dover—1:47.2. In the final, he drew post 8. That should be no problem for any colt that could race 1:47.2, even using a few extra steps to clear the field from the start or with one strong brush from not far back. So, the 8 hole may turn no one away from him and he should be a favorite.

We want to approach this race differently, for price and purpose. We want to assume that Captain Crunch has one heck of a race with major foes missing but will be challenged strongly here and could revert to the form that, while still fast, was not the breadth of a champion. A price may be in the works for another in the field with a 1:47.4 mark—Split The House.

This race would be Split The House’s second appearance on the H2W were he not here but here, in this field, he could be far more valuable than if he made his second spot on the list an overnight. With all the speed in this event, Split The House could be in the perfect spot to stalk and attack with a burst from off the pace, near to it or far. It is the only strategy worth addressing wagers in the event, as we see it.

DSBF PACING FILLIES

On Wednesday, Nov. 27, a pair of $100k DSBF finals for the frosh pacers is on the bill. Eight leave the gate in both. First up is the filly final.

Beating Wayne Givens’ Cinder Rock is the trick. She has five wins for six starts and her earnings tower over most of the field. Bag Of Jewels, from Dover’s other Givens, Les, is 10 grand short of Wayne’s filly but is the obvious major foe.

Another contender, though she won’t take much of the Givens’ gals’ money, is She’s Got The Lynx. Well-bred and certainly improving, Brenda Teague’s filly has enough chances to win as she will have odds to tempt a play. Certainly, we expect her to be in the mix for exotics.

BADLANDS’ BAD BOYS

White Lands, Undercovershamrock and American Nitro are hree progeny best represent the pacing colts’ DSBF final.

Badlands Hanover is the granddaddy of the state’s hottest bloodline. Winbak Farms was looking into the future of the sport when it stood Badlands Hanover. The farm’s owner, Joe Thompson, told me he considered standing Badlands Hanover a landmark because, “These days we have to breed for speed.”

Badlands Hanover has a unique place in the sport’s modern history. He displayed a remarkable stamina for speed, and at two he smashed the division record at the Breeders Crown during its only stop at the defunct Colonial Downs. On the only one-turn mile in modern history, Badlands Hanover won in 1:50. He was retired at two from an injury and Thompson stood Badlands Hanover at Winbak. As of today, Thompson’s breed-for-speed practice has made the pacer a sire of the winners of over $71 million.

Badlands Nitro, a million-dollar winner on the track, won this DSBF final and went on to win the Art Rooney, Max Hempt and was second in other major stakes at three. He was retired at six. He is the sire of White Lands, Undercovershamrock and American Nitro. Of those three, the latter most resembles his sire’s frosh accomplishments and earning power and cannot be ignored as the dead-on public choice here, even if not everyone has read this breeding history lesson.

In fact, the best candidate for an exacta partner is White Lands, the second of the three “Badlands” trio. If you are really brave, use Undercovershamrock for a trifecta.

H2W LIST
 
Dayton
11/26/19, Partner In Crime R6
11/27/19, +True To Mach R1; +The Blaker R6
11/29/19, +Colonys Best R1; +Mildrix R10; +Lucky Seven Oflodi R13

Meadows
11/26/19, +Presto Change O R9
 
Monticello
11/27/19, Bullville Blast R1; +This Or That R2; Fox Valley Hotcake R11; +Ideal Deal R12
 
Northville
11/29/19, Maggie Mae Trot R1

Philly
11/27/19, +Cajole Hanover R5; +Armagedon Seelster R8

Plainridge
11/27/19, +Big Bad George R3

Pompano
11/26/19, +Perfect Chapter R2
 
Saratoga
11/27/19, +Sea Change N R1; +Antiguan Art R4; +Under The Bus R5; +Miss Irish Rose A R6

Yonkers
11/26/19, Jag Out R8
11/30/19, Ideal One A R9